Laboring for the good of all

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Tonight Craig will witness something fairly rare for Northwest Colorado -- an old-fashioned labor rally. That's odd in its own right. But the reason for the rally is odder still.

It's not being called a labor rally. Officially, it's a dinner and dance to raise money for some Utah coal miners who have been locked out of their mine for more than 100 days.

But whenever trade unionists get the chance to speak out against injustice, the sparks usually fly.

Craig resident Francisco Picado, one of the event organizers, expects that to be the case. In fact, he's hoping people will come away feeling empowered after hearing the miners' story and speeches from local labor leaders. Perhaps, he says, people will be inspired to become more involved in social causes.

Members of United Mine Workers Local 1984, along with operating engineers from the Trapper Mine and workers at the Craig Station power plant are all expected to participate in the show of solidarity tonight at 7 p.m. at St. Michael's Catholic Church.

Miners from as far away as Vernal, Utah and Dinosaur will be here. But it's not just union members, Picado said. Ordinary Craig residents, Catholics, Mormons and Mexican-Americans are just a sample of the various groups who have been touched by the miners's struggle, he said.

They're called the "striking" Co-Op miners, but the truth is they were fired from their jobs after they tried to organize a union at the Bear Canyon Mine near Huntington, Utah. They've been picketing at the mine gates ever since, pleading their case in the court of public opinion. So why is a small band of mostly Mexican immigrants from Utah getting the star treatment here, more than 250 miles from their home?

"I think people are just so inspired," Picado said. "These people have so little and they took a stand. They remain firm. It makes people stop and think about values."

Last week a woman from Steamboat Springs dropped off a bag of groceries after she spotted a flier announcing the formation of a food bank to support the miners, Picado said.

Whether you believe that labor unions are good are bad, it's hard to deny that this particular labor struggle has brought out the best in the people of Moffat County. We're proud of the support local residents have shown to the Co-Op miners and we hope tonight's benefit is well attended.

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